Fleet operators must acknowledge outdated systems and in-person awareness campaigns are doing little to keep the roads safe. Modern technology is one of the few acceptable, scalable alternatives. Can digital fleet driver safety training, artificial intelligence, collision avoidance and telematics eliminate on-the-job fatalities?

Why Fleet Operators Must Prioritise Driver Safety

The logistics sector is years — if not decades — away from leveraging autonomous vehicles. In the meantime, fleet drivers are critical for continued operations. However, collision-related injury and fatality statistics don’t seem to reflect their importance.

This job is among the most hazardous in the logistics sector and has one of the highest fatality rates. In fact, heavy goods vehicles are responsible for 14% of road fatalities in the European Union. Thousands of fatal crashes occur annually due to poor driver safety.

Most fleet drivers have lengthy workdays, spending well over eight hours on the road daily. It’s not abnormal for them to work 70 hours or more weekly. Many forego rest and breaks to reach their destination faster, which puts them in harm’s way.

Despite 95% of fleet operators ranking driver safety as their top priority, 61% admit they experienced at least one accident in 2021. Although upper management may try to enforce defencive driving, vehicle maintenance and emergency response awareness, the results are often inconsistent because they have no in-cab oversight.Fatigue, the pressure of deadlines and extended periods spent on the road dull drivers’ senses, making them more likely to make careless mistakes while driving. Although many see this as a necessary evil and an inescapable aspect of the job, it is avoidable with the right technology.

The Importance of Technology in Fleet Driver Safety

Despite receiving in-person fleet driver safety training, many people often seek workarounds to standards and traffic rules to accommodate delivery deadlines. Others quickly forget the material after the session and ultimately fail to apply what they learnt. For example, many fall into the habit of leaving their seatbelt unbuckled or using their phone while driving.

Technology is vital for driver safety because it allows fleet operators to oversee and audit potentially unsafe practises. It enables remote monitoring, in-cab alerts, behaviour tracking and risk assessment. Without digitalisation, they are forced to rely on outdated tools or a trust-based system, both of which often result in collision-related injuries and fatalities.

Vehicle and in-cab monitoring made possible by the latest technologies are some of thavailable e few scalable, affordable and effective resources available. They can benefit fleet operators and drivers significantly.

What Technologies Can Improve Fleet Driver Safety?

Fleet operators can use a combination of proven and emerging technologies to improve fleet driver safety.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence can track behaviour, provide real-time recommendations and asses the quantitative impact of fleet driver safety training. A single machine learning model could apply to hundreds of vehicles simultaneously.

AI-driven route optimisation can substantially shorten transit time, potentially reducing driver fatigue and drowsiness. For example, the United Parcel Service’s AI-driven navigation system saves 6 to 8 miles per route on average. Long haul drivers stand to benefit more than their line haul counterparts by reason of incremental gains.

Geofencing

With geofencing, fleet operators receive alerts whenever vehicles pull out of the yard, idle on the road, deviate from the route or arrive at their destination. Although it mainly functions as asset protection, it also works to improve safety by ensuring drivers stop to rest at specific points.

Fleet Driver Safety Training

Digital fleet driver safety training improves every aspect of in-person sessions. Since workers can learn on mobile and desktop, they take control of their education. They can even revisit past lessons to refresh themselves.

Fleet operators can remotely enforce reeducation in response to underperforming metrics. If their data shows quantitative safety measurements don’t noticeably improve after the initial training sessions, they can track when drivers retake lessons.

Telematics Systems

Telematics has become integral to many fleets in recent years, as it can alert operators to aggressive driving. While most modern systems track unsafe driving behaviour like harsh braking, speeding and sharp turning by default, they can be configured to monitor company-specific pain points to enhance risk management.

Collision Avoidance Systems

Unfortunately, accidents are bound to happen despite the safety enhancements technology offers. In these scenarios, a collision avoidance system is ideal because it produces visible and audible in-cab alerts before an impending crash.

The Benefits of Using Technology for Driver Safety

Fleet owners and operators leveraging technology for driver safety will experience numerous benefits in addition to lowering their insurance expenses, maintaining their reputation and protecting their drivers’ well-being.

1.   Data-Driven Decision-Making

Technology like artificial intelligence, accelerometers and telematics systems can provide fleet operators and drivers with valuable metrics that they can use to generate insights. Data-driven decision-making can shorten transit time, encourage self-correction and lengthen vehicles’ life spans.

2.   Real-Time Intervention

Many modern technologies use algorithms or internet connections to collect, transfer, and analyse data in real time. This process enables immediate intervention like alerts or recommendations, which minimise the chance of a collision.

3.   Enhanced Emergency Response

Even with fleet driver safety training, many people have poor situational awareness and are more prone to acting irrationally in emergencies. Typically, this is because extended periods on  the road dull their reaction time.

Fatigue is responsible for 58% of heavy goods vehicle crashes, highlighting the importance of a robust emergency response. One of the main benefits of using technology for driver safety is that it can improve drivers’ attention spans and reduce drowsiness, improving reaction times.

Technology Can Prevent On-the-Job Fatalities

The freight and logistics sectors rely on fleet drivers, so it stands to reason operators must prioritise on-the-job safety. With proper implementation and monitoring strategies in place, they will likely be able to reduce collision-related injuries and fatalities drastically.

Source: Emily Newton, revolutionized.com